Education Outside of the Classroom: Teaching Our Kids New Skills
The school system in this country is excellent; there’s no denying it. Kids leave school knowing how to read and write, how to do mathematical equations; they know about science, history, religion, and so much more.
Not only do they learn academically, but they learn to navigate the complex world of other people too- how to socialise and get along with their peers and many other skills.
However, school doesn’t teach absolutely everything a child needs to succeed as an adult, there are things that fall to us as parents. Here are some examples and ways we can teach our kids outside of the classroom.
Children will get some basic cooking classes in schools, and nutrition from a science perspective will be covered as well. But it’s up to us as parents to ensure that when our children grow up and move out of home, that they can feed themselves and have enough knowledge of nourishing their bodies that they understand why it’s important.
We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic, and one of the best ways to come out of the other side is by educating our children. If we teach them the importance of nutrition, get them into healthy habits, and encourage them to make good choices, it puts them on the path to being healthy in adulthood.
One of the best ways we can do this is by cooking together. This teaches children about different ingredients, and by getting them involved, they’re more likely to try different foods. You could have them wash fruits and vegetables, carefully cut herbs with scissors, and mix ingredients for you.
There are plenty of child-appropriate tasks that will allow them to feel that they’re helping out. You could even go a step further and get out into the garden and grow vegetables together; this lets them see every step of the process and really understand where their food has come from. Teaching them how to prepare simple recipes, which flavours work well together and which ingredients are good for your body in which ways are all things worth teaching.
Money is a tricky concept for children to grasp. When they ask for things that we can’t afford, it’s easy for them to assume that we’re being unfair or withholding for whatever reason, without realising that it’s just not possible for us. This can be difficult and frustrating, especially as they get older and begin asking for more and more expensive things such as designer clothes and expensive technology.
Money is something that we all need to understand later on in life anyway, so it’s no bad thing to start kids young. Let them earn their pocket money by doing jobs then show them how to manage it, ideally by spending some and saving some for a future goal. You can get bank accounts and even bank cards that are specifically designed for children, often they’re linked up to alerts on your phone so you can see how the cash it being used which is something you could look into if you’re keen to give your child some spending practice on a small scale.
Children need to understand how money is a finite resource; it’s hard-earned, and once it’s gone, you have to work hard to make more. Once they grasp this, they can respect your decisions more when they’re turned down after asking for expensive things.
Real-world history and culture
School teaches plenty about history and culture, but it’s one thing to see it in books and another to see if for yourself. Museums and galleries are a fantastic ways for children to learn about history, art, and culture; they get to see artefacts with their own eyes, explore, and there are often interactive exhibits designed especially for kids to grab their attention- it doesn’t need to be boring!
As well as museums you could visit galleries as a way to appreciate and understand different art forms that come from different time periods and cultures, and best of all, museums and galleries are often free to get in, making it a budget family activity.
Travel is another way that children can learn outside of the classroom; you could take them to religious buildings, teaching them about religion and what people believe and worship. You could take them to city ruins and teach them about the history of a place, and even the mythology surrounding it. Many parents can be wary of taking kids abroad as it’s a lot of hassle, however if you plan it well it can be such a great learning experience.
No one likes doing housework and chores, but it’s something we have to as it’s about responsibility. And this is something that all children need to learn as they get older, so consider assigning specific duties to children as it will get them used to doing these kinds of tasks when they’re older.
Set an age-appropriate task that you expect them to do each day, it could be putting their toys back in their toy box each evening, laying the table for dinner, feeding a pet or making their bed. As they get older, add new jobs and skills into the mix. It teaches all kinds of skills and responsibilities, and you wont end up with a teen going off to college later down the line with no clue how to use a washing machine or iron their own clothes.
As far as kids are concerned, games are fun- and so it’s easy incorporating educational games into your regime as a way to learn. There are so many that you can play online or apps that you can download to an iPad.
Start them young with educational toys for toddlers, and as they improve, increase the challenge more and more. They work on things like memory, problem-solving, and can even help with hand-eye coordination. It can help with maths and spelling; or teach them new words, concepts and so much more.
There’s plenty that can be learned from even traditional board games, such as learning and playing by the rules (a great, transferable skill) and patience. Something kids naturally don’t have, and so working on is a good idea.
Socialisation and empathy
Children get the opportunity to socialise with their peers at school, but it’s useful to allow them to play and interact in a less formal setting sometimes too. It teaches skills like sharing, and empathy which is actually a learned behaviour and not inbuilt into us as humans.
Empathy it’s incredibly important throughout life and is something that develops in early socialisation with others. Spending time with their peers can also boost your child’s confidence, there’s nothing wrong with being a naturally more reserved child but if you’ve ever suffered with shyness and social awkwardness yourself, you’ll know that it can hold you back.
If you have friends or family with children of similar ages, then arranging playdates is one way to go about this.
Creativity is really helps them to think outside of the box, which is a skill that can be useful in many areas of daily life. Creative tasks can be enjoyable too; stick things to paper, get some sewing needles and thread and practice textile crafts, get some clay, and have a go at sculpting. There are so many different directions you can go with it.
Have a look on Pinterest for project ideas if you get stuck. Creativity is improved with practice, and having a creative brain is good for problem-solving, coming up with unique designs, and think more clearly, which are skills that come in handy throughout your life.